Sloan-Browne, Santa Monica, 1967

by Sam Sloan

Here is the story about this game:

   This game was played on Thanksgiving Day, 1967. I was scheduled to appear on a nationwide television show the following morning, I had to be at the TV studio at 9:00 AM.

Position after White played 41. Rc7. Browne did not see this move coming, and it won the game, because of the threat of Rhd7# mate.

   However, I was also supposed to play the third round of the American Open that morning. When I had entered the tournament, I had just assumed that I would forfeit the third round, because appearing on the TV show was obviously more important than just playing a chess game.

   However, I had scored an upset win in the second round, beating a master, so I had won both of my games and was tied for first place in the tournament. My next opponent was going to be a strong player and I did not want to forfeit.

   Walter Browne, who was later eight times US Champion, heard about my plight. He had a proposal. I was the lowest rated player with two points. Browne also had two points. He naturally wanted to play me, the weakest possible opponent. He would propose to Isaac Kashdan, the tournament director, that we be paired against each other and play the round at midnight that night rather than the following morning. This way, I could both play my chess game and appear on the TV show.

   Browne was one of the highest rated players with two points and I was the lowest rated, but Kashdan agreed that, if the pairing Sloan-Browne was reasonable, he would pair us together, so that I would not have to forfeit round three.

   Kashdan looked at the pairing cards. It was a bit of a stretch, but he finally decided that the pairing Sloan-Browne was reasonable and he let the game begin.

   The game started at exactly midnight, while there were still some games from the previous round being played.

   Early in the opening, about move 12, Browne seemed to be winning a pawn. Browne said across the board, "I will make you a deal. Resign the game now, and I will take you out and buy you a Thanksgiving Dinner."

   This was a tempting offer. It was, after all, Thanksgiving Day. I was dropping a pawn and my position did look nearly lost. Browne was rated more than 400 points higher than I was. Nevertheless, I always fight to the end, and so I declined his offer.

   Rather than take the pawn right away with 12. ...Qxc3, Browne decided to win the weak c-pawn with a slow build-up. I just kept moving, feeling that my position did not hold much hope.

   Suddenly, things started to get better. Brown had placed all his pawns on the white squares. Therefore, my black squared bishop had the potential to become extremely powerful.

   Also, in his haste to push his extra pawn to make a queen, Browne had allowed one of my rooks to reach his seventh rank. Now, it reached a point where it was almost impossible for him to stop my second rook from reaching the seventh, in which case I could force a draw.

   Browne spent a long time thinking about move 34. If he made the natural exchange of bishops, I could bring my other rook to the seventh, and force a draw immediately. I could even threaten checkmate, if Browne tried to get uppity.

   So, Browne made a wild sacrifice of the exchange, with 34. ... Rxf6. After that, still trying to win a position which was at best drawn, Browne gave up his remaining bishop with 37. ... Be7. Otherwise, I could have forced an immediate draw by simply checking back and forth with my rook Rb7-b8. Browne could not block the checks by interposing his bishop, nor could he zig-zag his king out, because then I could win the bishop with the other rook.

   I could even have played for a win with 36. Raa7. However, I was not yet thinking about winning the game. I was just trying to get a draw against a player rated more than 400 points higher than I was.

   After Browne sacrificed his bishop, leaving me with a rook for three pawns, I suddenly found an inspired move. I played 41.Rc7, threatening checkmate (can you see it?) This is the move in the game of which I was most proud, and obviously a move which Browne had not seen coming. Had I played the obvious 41.Rd7+, Browne could have brought his king around in front of his three pawns and tried to make a queen.

   This threat of checkmate effectively ended the game because, in order to get out of checkmate, Brown had to drop his c-pawn, the pawn that he was trying to queen. This left it a simple matter for me to mop up the two extra pawns with my extra rook, and so Browne resigned.

   An article about this game was published in the Los Angeles Times the following day. This game was published by Burt Hochberg in the January or February, 1968 issue of Chess Life magazine.

Sam Sloan

Position after White played 41. Rc7. Browne did not see this move coming, and it won the game, because of the threat of Rhd7# mate.

[Event "American Open"]
[Site "Santa Monica (USA)"]
[Date "1967.11.26"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Sloan,Sam"]
[Black "Browne,Walter S (USA)"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B31"]
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 g6 4.O-O Bg7 5.c3 Nf6 6.Re1 O-O 7.d4 cxd4 8.cxd4 d5 9.e5 Ne4 10.Nc3 Nxc3 11.bxc3 Qa5 12.Bf1 Bg4 13.Qd3 Bxf3 14.gxf3 e6 15.Bh3 Rfc8 16.Be3 Qa3 17.Bf1 Na5 18.Qb5 a6 19.Qb4 Rxc3 20.Qxa3 Rxa3 21.Rec1 b5 22.Rc5 Bf8 23.Rc7 Nc4 24.Bxc4 dxc4 25.h4 Rc3 26.h5 b4 27.hxg6 hxg6 28.Kg2 a5 29.d5 Bg7 30.dxe6 fxe6 31.Rh1 Rc2 32.Rb7 Rxa2 33.Bg5 Rf8 34.Bf6 Rxf6 35.exf6 Bxf6 36.Rb8+ Kg7 37.Rb7+ Be7 38.Rxe7+ Kf6 39.Rhh7 Ke5 40.f4+ Kd6 41.Rc7 Kd5 42.Rhd7+ Ke4 43.Rxc4+ Kf5 44.Rf7+ Kg4 45.f5+ Kg5 46.fxe6 Re2 47.e7 b3 48.e8=Q Rxe8 49.Rb7 1-0

Reprinted with permission

© Sam Sloan

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